Love in the Kitchen - making fast, healthy, homegrown meals you'll enjoy

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Snapshot - Summer Day

Our busy summer day started at Starbucks.

We took our cans in for recycling - and came away with over $150!

The recycling place is next to the mecca for all homeowners and gardeners.  Recognize it?

Then I put on my swimsuit...

... to practice the fine (and somewhat forgotten art) or car waxing.  Ugh.  But the car does look wonderful again!

Then home to make dinner... with the garden trio - beans, squash and corn!

I caught a "great" shot of The Boy.

And I snapped this of the pretty flowers as I was waiting for our dessert to finish grilling (!)

We all liked it, as you can see.

And we are finishing off the evening discussing our vacation plans with the in-laws (next March, London).

How did you spend your Sunday?

Sunday Snapshot

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bread Recipe Mistake... or Was It?

I have a favorite bread-machine bread recipe.  I found it several years ago, and it is my go-to recipe whenever I bake bread.

Italian Bread
  • 1 1/8 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dough conditioner (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  1. Place all ingredients in bread pan in the order listed (or as per the directions for your bread machine.)  Select Medium Crust setting, the French Bread cycle and press Start.
  2. Observe the dough as it kneads.  After 5 to 10 minutes, if it appears dry and stiff or if your machine sounds as if it's straining to knead the dough, add more liquid 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a smooth, soft, pliable ball that is slightly tacky to the touch.
  3. After the baking cycle ends, remove the bread from pan, place on cake rack and allow to cool 1 hour before slicing.
That's the recipe.  I use the dough cycle, let it rise a second time in my covered stone French bread pan and then bake for about 35 minutes at 350F.

The problem is, I was halfway into making the bread and realized that I didn't have enough bread flour.  I didn't have enough all-purpose flour either.  What I had was cake flour.

I asked the internet.  The internet said:

Cake flour is high in starch and low in protein and when chlorinated (bleached) allows cakes and other baked goods to set faster, rise better, the fat to be distributed more evenly, and there is less vulnerability to collapse.

Bread flours have from 12-14 percent protein. They will feel decidedly more elastic while kneading, and will give full, rounded loaves. These flours are made from hard winter wheats from northern states.

But it didn't really say I should (or shouldn't) substitute one for the other.

So, rather than forgoing the bread altogether, I used cake flour instead of bread flour.  I didn't think the results would be great... but they were!  The bread turned out very light and very tender, with a crispy crust.

Can you see how delicate it looks?

I may not use cake flour every time, but when I want a soft and delicate bread, I will certainly be happy to use it again!

Have you had a mistake in the kitchen turn out to be a surprise hit?

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Friday, July 29, 2011

What's For Dinner - Goat Cheese, Onion and Pancetta Pizza

Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Pancetta Pizza


  • Enough dough for two 10-12-inch pizzas (I used this recipe)
  • 4-6 oz pancetta
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 6-8 oz goat cheese, crumbled or coarsely chopped
  • 4-oz shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 500F – with your baking stone on the oven rack, if you have one.
  2. Cut pancetta into small cubes. Fry pancetta in a skillet coated with a little bit of olive oil or vegetable oil over medium-high heat until pancetta is crispy, about 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching
  3. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the crispy pancetta and place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
  4. Add onions to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are golden brown and very tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Take enough dough for one pizza and place on a lightly floured surface. Flatten the dough into an 8-inch disk, then stretch the edges gently until the dough is 10-12-inches in diameter.
  6. Transfer pizza dough to a pizza stone or a baking sheet. Spread about 1/4 cup of marinara sauce very thinly over the crust. Top with half of the pancetta, half of the onions and half of the coarsely crumbled goat cheese. Sprinkle half of the shredded mozzarella over the pizza.
  7. Slide pizza into preheated oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, until crust is golden and cheese has melted.
  8. Serve pizza immediately. Repeat steps with remaining piece of dough.

I cooked ours on the grill - we preheated our gas grill for about 10 minutes, then cooked it on high for another 10 minutes or so (when the cheese was bubbly and the crust is crispy).  The grill is my favorite way to cook a pizza!  I also added diced red peppers for some extra flavor.

How does this recipe look to you?  Would you consider making it?

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

What's For Dinner: Chicken Kebabs with Fresh Peach Salsa

When we got peaches in our CSA box this weekend, I knew I wanted to try this recipe for peach salsa. I had seen it on a website a while back and thought I could modify it to suit my tastes.

Here's how it looked:

Grilled Chicken Kebabs with Fresh Peach Salsa

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 24 (2-inch) pieces
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 32 (2-inch) pieces
  • 3 bell peppers, various colors, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups diced peaches (2 - 3)
  • 1 diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper (I used hot cherry peppers form my garden)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  1. Preheat broiler. Combine first 9 ingredients in a shallow dish; let stand 15 minutes.
  2. Thread onion pieces, pepper pieces and chicken pieces alternately onto each of 8 (12-inch) skewers. Place skewers on grill (coated with cooking spray for ease of turning). Grill 12 minutes or until chicken is done, turning occasionally.
  3. Combine nectarines and remaining ingredients in a bowl. 
  4. Serve - 2 skewers and about 3/4 cup salsa for each serving.

This was a great tasting dinner.  The sweet and spicy mixture of the salsa was wonderful - I could eat that alone!  We had it with grilled corn (!) and peas, both from the garden.  Delicious!

What's on your table?

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Menu Planning

I enjoy planning dinners that incorporate our garden ingredients.  I am thinking that this week will include a lot of corn-based sides!  

Wednesday:  Chicken Kebabs and Nectarine Salsa
Thursday:  Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Pancetta Pizza
Friday:  Apricot Lemon Chicken
Saturday:  Spaghetti with Tomato, Basil and Roasted Garden Vegetable Sauce
Sunday:  Cuban Pork Chops (with Grilled Banana Splits for Dessert!)
Monday:  On my own while the family is eating at California Adventure
Tuesday:  Someone Else Cooks!

Linked here:  Organizing Junkie

What's on your table this week?

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday Garden Party - Gardening Realities

We've had good luck in our garden this year for the most part.  However, even good luck in gardening has its realities.

Like the reality of dealing with critters...

And trying to rid the plants of insects...

And different insects...

And slugs....

Some insect prevention (keep that corn healthy!)

And the reality that, for every tiny little watermelon...

... there are watermelon vines dying for unknown reasons.

For every ripening tomato...

... tomato plants wither and die.

For each vibrant petunia...

... one doesn't make it.

For each healthy, growing pumpkin...

... one struggles.

And those are just the realities that one must accept if one is to survive gardening with one's sanity intact.

And it does help to have a very healthy corn crop to turn to!  Have I mentioned we are excited about our corn lately?  ;-)

Even with the (fairly standard I think) setbacks that we have had this year, our garden has been such a pleasure for us!  We'll be expanding in the fall and have great plans for next summer.

This summer is just ramping up though, and I'm thinking that our "all volunteer tomato army" will be giving us ripe tomatoes any day now, and we'll have more delicious corn for dinner!  Come on back next week to see what another week brings - in the meantime, check out An Oregon Cottage for her weekly Garden Party.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Grilled Lasagna - The Results

We made Grilled Lasagna this weekend.  The premise is to build your lasagna in foil, add a bit of water and then stick on the grill to cook.  Seems easy.

And mostly, that's true.  However, it is a bit complicated (or perhaps tedious is the right word) to make.

The lasagnas are made in individual portions in individual foil packets.  Fun for serving, but not so fun for making. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the preparation, but I did manage to get one of the finished product.

And since we were grilling, and we had fresh corn from the garden, I had to throw that on too!

I did kind of screw up the idea of not heating up the kitchen by making a nice loaf of Italian bread.  But come on, how can you have lasagna without Italian bread?

A few things I learned:

  • lower heat on the grill would be better
  • more moisture inside the packet would be a bit better (more tomato I think next time)
  • I did cook a fresh tomato and meat sauce to top it instead of fresh grated tomato - and we all loved that

Bottom line?  I liked it.  I think it's a great idea, with lots of versatility, and with a bit of tweaking, I think we can find the perfect way to beat the heat AND have a wonderful lasagna!

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Harvest Monday: July 25, 2011

We had a pretty exciting week!

We had peppers!!

Hot Cherry Peppers...

and some Cayenne Peppers...

Tons of basil (love this!)...

... and a few more Cayenne Peppers.
Strawberries (yum)!

And?!!  Corn!!  Incredibly delicious!  And worth the wait.  We will definitely be growing this again.

Another of our Chilean Sweet Peppers...
And even more corn!!

I have to say, we are loving our harvests this year!

Total Harvest for the Week:  6 pounds, 0.7 ounces
Total Harvest for the Year:  19 pounds, 9.8 ounces

Maybe some green onions this week, and I think we'll pull more herbs.  I expect a bunch of hot peppers, and, of course peas and strawberries.  We're still anxiously waiting for the tomatoes, and I think we've started to grow a watermelon or two (finally)!

Linked up with Daphne's Dandelion's Harvest Monday... hop on over and see what else is being picked this week.

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